In honor of Carol Goodman releasing a new mystery novel, “River Road” (which I’m extremely excited to read), I want to shed a little light on one of my favorite books, “The Lake of Dead Languages.” I first read this book at about 12 years old. I was at a friend’s house and she kindly let me borrow it. I loved it so much I kept it for years and read it over and over! (I know I’m terrible). Before “The Lake of Dead Languages” I read predominantly urban fiction novels, which I had no business reading at that age, and it changed my view of literary art. I fell in love with mystery and the art of complex characters. My eyes opened and now I love so many different genres, which is why this novel will always be my #1.
“The Lake of Dead Languages” by Carol Goodman
Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson fled the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. The week before her graduation, in that sheltered wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden in the depths of Heart Lake for more than two decades. Now Jane has returned to the school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories. And young, troubled girls are beginning to die again–as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface.
Reading from Jane’s prospective obviously connects the reader to her more than anyone else. I felt bad that she wanted Lucy’s friendship so much. Even though Lucy and Matt were her “friends” she was always the outsider. I felt like Jane tried too hard to get them to like her which caused a lot of the problems in the story. Even when Matt was no longer in the picture on an every day basis Jane still took a back seat to their new friend and room mate Deirdre. Jane just couldn’t win.
Lucy felt like someone a lot of us could say we knew. She was angelic in looks and portrayal. She was little miss perfect but wanted you to feel like she didn’t think she was anything special even though she thought she was. I was fond of her character when I first read this story but each time I read it she became more and more unlikable. I guess that came with maturity.
The three girls become really entranced with their Latin teacher and Latin practices. Innocent admiration and fun begin to take a darker turn. Bad things begin to happen and it’s hard for them to keep their game faces through it all. When Jane returns as an adult those same things begin to haunt her. More girls begin to die and it’s the worst case of deja vu. I was trying to piece together everything and figure out what was really going on right along with Jane. I was frustrated at how Jane handled a lot of things, she always seemed passive to me, but when everything came together she finally got a fire under her butt.
I was shocked once the mystery was solved but then I was like, “Man I should’ve known! How did I not see that?” I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t already read it.
“River Road” by Carol Goodman
Nan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party when she hits a deer. Yet when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is gone. Eager to get home before the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year…
The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before, and because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the her daughter’s death, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.
As she digs further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, has been hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her life is destroyed for ever?
I would love to know if anyone has read either title, or any of Carol’s work, and what you think? What books would you suggest that are similar?